Year — Fall 2020
Semester — Fall 2020
Year — Fall 2019
Jul 23-26, 2019 → Jun 8-11, 2020
Semester — Fall 2019
Jul 23-26, 2019 → Jan 13-16, 2020
Semester — Spring 2020
Feb 11-14, 2020 → Jul 20-23, 2020
Year — Spring 2020
Feb 11-14, 2020 → Jan 11-14, 2021
Costa Rica is the place of pura vida (pure life), a contagious attitude of living life to the fullest. And it shows – Costa Rica is the world's happiest country according to the Happy Planet index. A peaceful country with no standing army, Costa Rica has a long democratic tradition. Democracy, peace, and political freedom are often mentioned as their greatest blessings.
By living with a host family and studying at a local high school in Costa Rica, you’ll be fully immersed in their Spanish language dialect and vibrant culture. You’ll be so much more than a tourist. But you’ll still get to visit some of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations on a one-week bus trip with other AFS Exchange Students from all over the world. Most of the time, you’ll simply live pura vida.
Costa Ricans call themselves “ticos,” and you’ll often hear them demonstrate their national pride by describing something as “muy tico,” or “very Costa Rican.” Ticos are generally easy-going, so you’re likely to get along with most people you meet.
With its tropical climate, biodiversity, fresh food, and relaxed lifestyle, studying abroad in Costa Rica is an enchanting way to discover a new culture. In time, through your homestay and high school life, you’ll feel at home in this idyllic society.
You can expect to be enrolled in a public school in Costa Rica. Classes usually start around 7 am with a snack break around noon. Depending on the school, the end of the day could be anywhere from 1 to 4:30 pm. In some places, a portion of students attend class in the morning while the rest go in the afternoon. Because most studying is done at school, you probably won’t have too much homework, giving you plenty of free time to learn about Costa Rican culture through firsthand experience.
Costa Rican students like to get together to watch movies, have picnics, or hang out in the park. Futból (soccer) is the most popular sport, but you might also play basketball or go swimming. Dancing is another favorite pastime, with people enjoying Latin dances like salsa, merengue, and cumbia, as well as the Costa Rican swing.
AFSers have lived all throughout Costa Rica, but you’ll most likely find yourself in an urban or suburban area. No matter where you stay, you’ll be within an hour or two of the coast and nearby some breathtaking natural beauty.
Communities in Costa Rica tend to be small, and most people enjoy gathering together to catch up on the local news and gossip. Costa Ricans are usually welcoming and family-oriented. You can expect to share lots of meals with your host parents, host siblings, and extended family members.
Costa Ricans consider the family the basic element of society. Most young people live with their parents even after entering college or becoming financially independent. They usually will not leave home until they get married, and even then, they will try to remain close to their parents.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. "Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do. That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
A new you awaits. Apply for High School Study Abroad in Costa Rica!
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.